LondonNet Music Guide

Imogen Heap - Interview

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MMR: Technically, how did you handle it?

IH: I was quite stuck for lyrical ideas for awhile, so I would start doing more of the productions stuff. Then, the problem with that, is you end up with a produced backing track, and then you have to crowbar a song over the top of it, which is really difficult. You should really start with the song, first.

Eventually I got the hang of it - what was working, what wasn't - but not having a partner to bounce ideas off, was sometimes a little tricky, cause they would've gone, "Well, what about this?" and that would've sorted out three weeks worth of chin scratching.

Then, I kind of realised that actually you can't spend seven days a week in the studio because you're just not going to get any inspiration from yourself, your mouse and a computer. So that's when I thought: right. I've really got to take at least one day off a week and do something. As soon as I kind of realised that, that I have to go out and experience real life, to actually write about it, then it started to ease up a bit.

I think, also, when I started to invite friends and people to the studio, that was also really really helpful - just playing an idea that's totally not finished to somebody. I'm not there to hear their opinion, I just want them in the room, because whenever somebody else is in the room you really, really hear, for the first time, how you actually feel about the song. There's something about somebody else being in the room that makes you...honest about the song, to yourself.

MMR: What about personal sacrifices? Did you have to give up many personal things, to do this?

IH: Yes, my boyfriend is a gift from heaven. He's so sweet and I really didn't see him, basically for a year. Poor thing. But he's so sweet, and he loves my music. He really, really does love the record, and he's a musician so he understands that it just has to be done.

Every now and then he'd come over and we'd have a microwave meal together. I owe him a lot, really - that he hung around for me. I mean, thankfully we live together, cause that was the only time I'd actually get to see him, is at three o'clock in the morning. Climb into bed, snuggle up for a few hours before we get up again. No, he's really great. It was difficult, and definitely a struggle, and we've had to patch things up a little, because we just weren't seeing each other...[but] it's all good, he's great.

MMR: I think every musician dreams of making and producing their own album, entirely. What did you expect in doing it, and how has it turned out?

IH: In the beginning, I really didn't think I was going to do all of it. Like every-single-tiny-little-piece. I thought I may get as far as a certain stage and then bring somebody else in for a second opinion. Just some fresh ears, basically. But the more I did, the more I realised I could do.

I did surprise myself on quite a few occasions, just sonically. I don't know quite how I managed to mix the songs, because I hadn't really done that on my own. I'd done it, obviously, with Guy and I'd done it with people since I was eighteen, and I understand about where things should go, but...everyone comments, who makes the record, it sounds great. And I say, "Me." I love it, saying, "Me."

I think the way that I work is, I'm writing and recording as I go along, all the different parts. It's not like I'm bringing in a band member and then, you're like, ok, I'll mix that in later. Next: let's record the guitars. It's like, everything's programmed, pretty much. I'm building it as I go along. Like a painting. It just builds and builds, and then there's no kind of moment where you...you don't rub white paint over a painting and go, right, let's do the final one. You do it as you go along and then you end up with the final product.

I guess I was mixing as I went along, and I got to the stage where I thought I would be like, right, I need to get someone else in, and then I realised that, well, actually, it sounds fine. It's already done.

This whole idea of mixing is nonexistent anymore, with Protools. The way people work [is] like me.

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More Imogen Links:

Upcoming gig tickets >>
Bush Hall gig review >>
Speak For Yourself album review >>
Buy Speak For Yourself at Amazon.co.uk >>
Hide & Seek video (WMP): hi / low